Lucas Raymond adds weight, muscle and appears ready to breakout

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports /

The third-year forward Lucas Raymond appears poised to enjoy a breakout season with the Detroit Red Wings following a very productive off-season. Raymond, 21, added 12 pounds this off-season and vows not to be pushed around.

The Detroit Red Wings selected Lucas Raymond with the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Level Draft. Raymond quickly made a positive impression on Yzerman and co. earning a spot on the opening-day roster as a rookie. Raymond edged out veteran Bobby Ryan, who was with the team on a personal try-out basis for a final top-six spot on the roster.

I wouldn’t classify last season as a disappointment or a sophomore slump, but I do think the Detroit Red Wings expected to see Raymond take a step forward in his development and growth, but we did not see it. As a rookie, Raymond recorded 23 goals and 57 points but was a minus-32. His Corsi For Percentage (CF%) settled in at 48.9%. His Relative Corsi For (CF% rel) came in at 3.7% during even strength situations.

He’d follow that production up last season with 17 goals and 45 points over 74 games and was a minus-17 on the year. Not only did his point production slide but so did his possession numbers. He skated to a CF% dipped to 47.9%, and his CF% Rel was 1.4% during even strength situations. While watching Detroit last season, it became obvious that teams went out of their way to be physical with Raymond. Whether it was an attempt to get Raymond off his game or what it seemed to work. Teams regularly tried to rough up Detroit’s young forward during the play and plenty of times after the whistle. Following a very productive off-season weight training program, Raymond appears poised not to be pushed around any longer. The extra weight and muscle added should also translate to more offensive production.

Lucas Raymond is in better physical and mental shape this season.

Just before the start of the regular season, Detroit Red Wings head coach Derek Lalonde spoke about how he thought Lucas Raymond broke down physically as last season wore on and how the organization wants him to be stronger on the puck this season.

"“We just want him stronger on pucks,” coach Derek Lalonde said after Thursday’s morning skate at Prudential Center. “If he can keep plays alive, I think he will be able to do more of what he is good at. I appreciate the fact last year, I really think he was committed to our team game. It was just, he physically wore down at times.”"

Lucas Raymond mentioned that he doesn’t only feel a lot better physically, but he’s also in better shape mentally.

"“I feel great,” Raymond said. “I feel like I’m in a good head space and good physical shape as well. I like where I am at. I’m excited. I just want to play good hockey and be a productive player. I feel like I’ve learned things every year –from my first to second, and my second to this year. I just take away parts every time and try to improve them or sustain them.”"

It’s early, but through the first two games this season, Lucas Raymond does look to be a more physical and confident player. In Detroit’s home opener Saturday night, Raymond leveled Tampa Bay’s Michael Eyssimont, leaving him skates up on Detroit’s bench.

Raymond also appeared ferocious on the forecheck, an area many wondered if Detroit’s top line would struggle in with Tyler Bertuzzi no longer with the club. Saturday, Lalonde slid Raymond back up to Detroit’s top line, where he’s performed for most of his first two seasons alongside Larkin, and it paid off in a big way. In the season opener, Lalonde elected to skate veteran David Perron on the top unit but shifted gears following the loss.

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The trio of Larkin, Raymond, and newcomer Alex DeBrincat proved to be dangerous all night long. The three combined for three goals and five points. They also totaled 17 shots on goal. Expect to see a heavy dose of this top line moving forward.